Monday, June 24, 2013

Losing the Loss

I'm learning to let go.

At least, I'm trying.

I grew up in a house where nothing was actually mine.

My parents often took away (or broke) my beloved possessions as punishment.

They withheld privileges and, ultimately, their own love.

I left a lot behind to get away from them. I moved around a lot after I got away from them. I lost some things in the shuffle.

I was heartbroken for years that I'd left my yearbooks behind at Nicki's house, when I was asked to leave as unceremoniously as when my own parents suggested I "find somewhere else to sleep." I managed to get them back this past Christmas, 16 years later.

But I still lose things all the time. I leave sunglasses behind in bars. I leave credit cards behind in restaurant billfolds. I've left umbrellas, wool gloves, and earmuffs nearly everywhere I've gone in cold climates. Luckily, I usually remember, and can go back and retrieve them.

I left a nightgown once at a motel. I'd already left town when I realized it, so I called and begged them to ship it to me. (They capitulated.)

But most recently, when I left my beloved pig stuffed animal at a motel in Temecula, its absence discovered only upon my return home, I decided to leave it there. I didn't call. I figured I was too old to be sleeping with a furry pink pig anyway. I figured it had no actual sentimental value, having received it from my parents during a debilitating illness my sophomore year of college, when they'd come to have a look at me to make sure I was alive before heading off  to Lake Placid on vacation. I only slept with Piggie because I wanted to sleep with something in my arms, and Piggie was the perfect size. But Piggie was showing his age, and the wear and tear of night after night soaked by my tears and sweat and drool and leftover perfume had taken its toll on him. Laundering him didn't wash me off of him anymore.

So maybe it was best that he was left behind. I didn't have the heart to give him away. I couldn't tear him from my own clutches, desperate to hold onto something as I slept. But the fact that I was able to forget him - even for a moment while packing, even for a day until I returned home - meant something. It was time to move on.

Not every loss is so easy. The dry cleaner just destroyed my silk red dress, the first dress I bought after losing enough weight to fit into my first Size 4, a dress I still wear now that I'm a little heavier, when I want to feel good, when I want to remember how proud I was back then. The edges of the capped sleeves are frayed, possibly beyond repair. The color is faded at the elastic waist. It's quite possibly done for, a loss I was not prepared for, a loss I had never hoped for. But, I remind myself, it's a materialistic loss that I should not mourn with my tears. After all, it's not worth it. It's just a dress.

And, honestly, I don't need things. Not really. I long since lost the need to receive gifts, though I still love giving (and wrapping) them.

But I do want certain things.

I want to keep certain things.

But there are certain things over which I have no control.

There are other losses, less tangible and materialistic. When I recently rejoined Weight Watchers, a glitch wiped out my entire weight lost record (including my starting weight 35 lbs heavier), all the foods I'd ever added, all of my favorites, and any trace of ever having lost any weight at all. I burst into tears and sobbed and sobbed. I wanted credit for all that I had done. Keeping off 35 pounds, despite having gained 15 back, was an accomplishment of which I was trying to be proud. Now, every time I attend a meeting and someone new checks me in, I have to re-explain my situation over and over again, and the tears return.

I'm trying to convince myself that a clean slate is a good thing. Starting over means not focusing on how I've failedbut on the future accomplishment I have before me.

Is it possible to lose your sense of loss? Or do you always feel the absence of that which you would have never given up willingly?

Can we detach ourselves completely? Or does our attachment to certain things, people, events, memories, tastes, whatever, simply make us human?

Related Posts:
Letting Go
A Tale of One Dress
Life for Rent
The Things I Left Behind: LA Edition
The Things I Left Behind
Leave No Trace: Workplace Edition

To Like Avoiding Regret on Facebook, click here.